by Julie Savino
Wenatchee, Wash., April 15, 2014 - Thirty-four students and adults from Cascade Christian Academy (CCA) and the Wenatchee (Wash.) Church flew to Belize on March 9, 2014. Their mission: to build a security fence around the King’s Children’s Home (KCH), an Adventist orphanage managed by “Mama Leonie” Herrera-Gillham who was a former teacher with a big heart for children, abandoned, abused, or neglected by their parents. The 19 high school students from CCA who participated in the mission trip never bargained for what they saw or experienced. The 84 babies, children and teens living at KCH captured their hearts, and they will never be the same again.
The CCA students involved in the “fence crew” worked each day until about 3 p.m. at which time, they would quickly clean up and head over to the orphanage to interact with the resident children by playing games, tutoring, reading, and just hanging out. The orphans craved attention and the CCA high school students enjoyed giving it, building friendships and memories.
During their evening worships, the KCH children enjoy a lively worship of songs and scripture recitation in their very large living room. The CCA students were amazed at the length of the children’s memory verses, some of which were 22 verses long! Watching the children climb on the CCA teens’ laps with joy, and some actually curling up and falling asleep in their arms, was priceless.
Besides raising money for the security fence, the group was able to assist KCH technology staff by installing a wireless internet system. Richard Davis, IT specialist from the Wenatchee Church, spent many long-hour days running wire and installing equipment to provide the much needed system for the staff and students at KCH. Surplus funds allowed the purchase of a new washer and dryer as well as seed money for other future projects the orphanage directors have determined.
When the Mission Trip group left Belize on March 19 to return to Wenatchee, it was with mixed emotions. Tears flowed for having to leave the children so soon, but there was the hope of returning again in the near future. Glenn Fisher, the group’s leader, intends to make the King’s Children’s Home in Belize a mission trip destination every other year. Brenda Mendalis and Garth Comm from the East Wenatchee (Wash.) Church are great supporters of KCH. Their expertise and knowledge of their program was instrumental in making the trip a success.
Providing service opportunities for students in our Adventist schools, like Cascade Christian Academy, broadens our students’ global and economic knowledge as well as giving them a glimpse of the work that continues to be done to win hearts for Jesus around the world. Perhaps one day some of these students will find themselves serving God in Belize or locations where the need is great.